Sixty-seven years ago today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, allowing the military to circumvent the constitutional safeguards of American citizens in the name of national defense.
The order set into motion the exclusion from certain areas, and the evacuation and mass incarceration of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, most of whom were U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident aliens. These Japanese Americans, half of whom were children, were incarcerated for up to 4 years, without due process of law or any factual basis, in bleak, remote camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.
They were forced to evacuate their homes and leave their jobs; in some cases family members were separated and put into different camps. President Roosevelt himself called the 10 facilities “concentration camps.”
A 22-year-old welder in Oakland, Calif., named Fred Korematsu defied military orders to enter these concentration camps and was convicted for his resistance.